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nony" with impunity,' was against all due subordination, At length a new and more auspicious era came, et mage. nus ab integro sceclorum nascitur ordo.
And now the patriot, soaring on the wings of en, y thusiasm, recommends a gradual emancipation, in the generous hope that the catholics would in the course o r some indefinite period, or in some undetermined series of succeeding generations, inherit a capacity to take free. dom. But still to have a gun to scare the crows, a steeple or a bell, or a vote at a vestry, was too dangerous à confidence. To be a juror or a constable, an attorney, or a barrister, or to hold any station, civil or military, was not yet to be hoped or looked for. The thing had already gone too far. The alarm was rung. Protestant corporations, grand juries, committees and hired presses, poured forth their malignant ribaldry. The truth was this. The hour of danger was passed by, and with it the season of concession was gone. Then came the organized banditti. Then the no popery and peep of day men. Then the recall of faithless promises. And that government that refused to tolerate catholics, tolerated, instigated and indemnified a faction, whose deeds will never be forgotten. Then came hangings, half hangings, conflagrations, plunder and torture. Rape, murder and indemnity went hand in hand. And then it was, that a spectacle new and appalling, for the first time, presented itself; and presbyterian, churchman, and catholic were seen to ascend the same scaffold, and die in the cause of an indissoluble union. The great x cause of human emancipation in spite of events, has still proceeded, and were the question that we are now deba. ting, given against us, we might find to our astonisment,
that on that very hour when an American tribunal had pronounced against the freedom of the catholic faith, the united parliament of Britain and Ireland had pronounced it free.
I am aware that the words I have spoken touching the penal laws of Ireland, must seem strange to many. It would be too cold and tedious to quote them from the statute book one by one, and perhaps too, foreign to the point. I have no principle to establish but this, that we should never look to Ireland for a precedent, where the rights of catholics were concerned. If what I have said be true, I think it is enough. And to shew that I have not exaggerated, I shall now refer to some of the expressions of the great Edmund Burke, upon the same subject. In the year 1782, when a bill for the relief of the Roman catholics was proposed by Mr. Gardner a member of the Irish house of commons, Mr. Burke in answer to a noble peer who had consulted him, used these words :
66 To look at the bill in the abstract, it is neither more nor less, than a renewal act of universal, unmitigated, indispensable, exceptionless disqualification." Yet this of which he spoke, was a bill for the relief of the Roman catholics. If such was the character of the relief intended by their advocates, what must be the condition from which they sought relief?
Speaking of Mr. Hutchinson, then provost of the university, and a man distinguished in the Irish parliament and councils, who had proposed a few sizerships in Trinity College for the education of the catholic clergymen, Mr. Burke uses these emphatic terms: “ Mr. Hutchinson certainly meant well; but coming
, ? from such a man as him, it shews the danger of suffer ing any description of men to fall into entire contempt, for the very charities intended for them are not perceiv . ed to be fresh insults. Where every thing useful is withheld, and only what is servile is permitted, it is easy to conceive upon what footing they must be in such a place. Mr. Hutchinson must well know the regard and honor I have for him; my dissenting from him in this pårticular, only shews that I think he has lived in Ireland ! To have any respect for the character or person of a popish priest there, Oh! 'tis an uphill work indeed!" And alluding to the penalty of death for marrying å protestant with a papist, he continues, “Mr. Gardner's humanity was shocked at it, as one of the worst parts of that barbarous system, if one could settle the preference where almost all the parts were outrages upon the rights of humanity and the laws of nature.” Mr. Burke then concludes his admirable letter thus : 66 Thinking over this matter maturely, I see no reason for altering my opinion in any part. The act as far as it goes, is good undoubtedly. It amounts very nearly to toleration in religious ceremonies ; but it puts a new bolt on civil rights, and rivets the old ones in ened. I could have wished the civil advantages to take the lead, the others of religious toleration would follow as a matter of course. From what I have observed, it is pride, arrogance, and a spirit of domination, and not a bigotted spirit of religion that has caused and kept up these oppressive statutes. I am sure I have known those who oppressed papists in their civil rights, exceedingly indulgent to them in their religious ceremo
nics, and who really wished them to continue catholics in order to furnish pretences for oppression. These persons never saw a man, by converting, escape out of their power but with grudging and regret. I have known men, to whom I am not uncharitable in saying (though they are dead) that they would have become pa. pists in order te oppress protestants, if being protestants it was not in their power to oppress papists. It is injustice, and not a mistaken conscience, that has been the principle of persecution, at least as far as has fallen under my observation."
The Court will excuse me for calling to my aid, the opinions of this eminent man, upon a subject where the truth is almost beyond credibility. Well might he say that injustice and not even a mistaken conscience had dictated these persecutions, for whoever reads the Irish history will see that these persecutions form two epochs. One before and one since the reformation. The one containing an era of about 400 years, the other about 300. Both equally fantastical and wicked. During the former, the natives of Ireland suffered for being Irish, or speaking Irish. They were pronounced aliens in their native land, and forced to sue out letters of denization. And in the reign of the third Edward they preferred a petition to be naturalized. It was refused. They rebelled--were defeated, and punished. It was no felony, and so enacted, to kill an Irishman in Ireland, and was forbidden under monstrous penalties, to speak Irish, to use the fashions of Ireland, to wear the beard upon the upper lip, or wear wide sleeves. If any one was curious enough to read the ancient statutes and rolls of parliament, from the days of Edward the third, to those
of Henry the eighth, he would find plainly enough, that mistaken conscience had nothing to do with the matter, nor religion nothing; but that the love of plunder, power, not until the axe was blunted by long use, till the mine was exhausted by the work of centuries, that religion served to whet the edge and rekindle the brand. Then streamed abroad the bloody banner of the church ; then rose anew the yell of desolation ; and then again the spoiler grew rich upon the soil, reeking and fattened with the natives blood. Thence the broad charters of desolated provinces, and planting of human beings, for so they termed it, amongst the bleaching bones of those destroyed by war and famine in the name of God!!! Were there rebellions? Were there massaeres ? Aye, to be sure, there were!, They were the natural crop. For he that sows must reap! Away then with Irish cases and Irish authorities : for to adopt them here would be as mad as wicked. The Irish persecutors had their motives. It was their interest. They lived upon it. They had no living else than plots and forfeitures ! They were not simple bigots, acting from mistaken conscience. They were pirates determined to hold what they had got, and rather than lose it scatter law and justice to the winds and waves. The cunning mariner will throw overboard the most precious of his effects, when his life and all is at stake. And so they did. But who except a maniac will do se in a season of tranquillity and calm ? Indeed in later times the continuance of the catholic oppressions has taken the character of downright folly ; and the wisest and keenest of British statesmen haş so considered it.